Japan aims to expand the CPTPP trade agreement as membership of the United Kingdom and China

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks at the CEO Dialogue Forum of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Organization via video link yesterday. (AP photo)

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Friday that Japan aims to expand a major regional free trade agreement called CPTPP, which could satisfy the interest of China and Britain to join the accord.

The Comprehensive and Advance Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) links 11 countries including Canada, Australia and Japan.

“Japan will aspire to the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area through the early conclusion of the RCEP and the continued implementation and expansion of CPTPP as president next year,” Suga said.

The Prime Minister made the comment in a pre-recorded video message delivered at the CEO Dialogues of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), ahead of the virtual summit of leaders later in the day.

RCEP, or Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, is the world’s largest free trade agreement signed this month by 15 economies, while the Asia-Pacific free trade area is likely to be a larger agreement that the 21 APEC members aspire to.

A Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman said on Thursday that his country is open to the idea of ​​joining the CPTPP, while Britain announced earlier this year its intention to continue joining the agreement.

The chief diplomat of the Chinese government, State Councilor Wang Yi, is scheduled to travel to Tokyo next week, in the first high-level visit between the two countries since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic . Friday.

Meanwhile, during his speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Suga, who became prime minister in September, emphasized his main policy priorities – digital transformation and cutting greenhouse gases.

“As people’s behavior patterns change due to Covid-19, accelerating digital transformation is crucial,” he said.

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